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Creamy Sesame-Ginger Napa Slaw

Ginger-Sesame Napa Slaw

Creamy Ginger Sesame Napa Slaw
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Hi there! Introducing you today to a new concept in salads: Cole Slaw. 😂

When most people think of a traditional cole slaw, myself included, we’re thinking of that nasty, gloppy, thick stuff served as a condiment at school buffets and as sides on hawaiian kalua pork platters.

….This doesn’t resemble anything *close* to that! (Check out the photo above.)

See how light, airy and exotic it looks? Heck yeah! It’s time for some modern coleslaw versions.

I was inspired by this gorgeous head of purple-laced napa cabbage I saw at the Portland Farmer’s Market last weekend. I had never seen cabbage so….pretty…in my life.

A delicate plant deserves delicate dressing, so this creamy but lightweight version was born. It’s got a bit of an Asian inspiration behind it, with sesame seeds and ginger. I added some basil as well to offset the flavors, and some slivered almonds for crunch. Check this awesome cabbage out in the top left corner of this picture. This is the gorgeous group of stuff I just nabbed last weekend of all-local, in-season produce.

Portland Farmer's Market Produce
October Portland Farmer’s Market Produce

I love a fresh, bright, modern slaw alongside richer cuts of meat. For dinner I served this with my Roast Pork Tenderloin with Tarragon-Dijon sauce. I keep the dressing separate as the leaves of anything thin tend to wilt once they’ve been dressed. The next night, we’ll re-serve this slaw (with dressing!) on top of some juicy carnitas or fish tacos for OMG-goodness Monday night dinner.

I have both white and black sesame seeds on hand, but I really have no rational explanation for this. Use whatever you’ve got. I keep sesame oil out of the dressing just to make it a little more versatile, but feel free to add a teaspoon if you’re really looking for that Asian flavor in this dish.

Of course, while you can opt for any flavor or color of cabbage, I’ve been eating all the purple plants I can get my hands on lately. Why? It’s a little plant compound called anthocyanin. This is a powerful plant antioxidant found in any blue or purple plant. From blueberries to grapes to purple sweet potatoes, if its blue or purple-hued, it contains this awesome inflammation fighter.

Napa is a particularly delicate cabbage that works really well in place of red leaf lettuces for salads. Additionally, all cabbage is part of the Brassica (Cruciferous) family – the same family as powerhouses kale, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. This veggie family LOVES the autumn and winter, so its easy to get your fill of them once the weather turns cool.

Brassicas are second only to Alliums (garlic, onions and leeks) when it comes to cancer and inflammation-fighting properties. This is why our family’s weekly salads tend to have more cabbage or kale in them, than other forms of leafy greens. (I’m still a sucker for a good arugula and goat cheese though.)

Last tip is regarding the mayonnaise in the dressing. Mayonnaise is SO easy to make at home – I’ve got a fail-proof, 5-minute recipe I’m putting up on the blog any day, so keep checking back (our Search function does a great job and actually returns relevant results!).

I was intimidated to make mayo for the longest time, but once I did it, I couldn’t believe how rich and luscious it tasted. If you don’t have the time or desire, at least choose a mayo made from a natural oil – olive or avocado. Most commercial mayo is made with shelf-stable soybean or canola oil. Both of these oils are pro-inflammatory in the body, and highly industrialized.

Whether you dress this slaw up as an entree salad topped with protein and grain, serve it as a side salad to cut through a rich roasted meat or pasta dish, or serve it shredded on top of tacos, bright and tangy cabbage is a superstar for weeknight dinners. It makes a fantastic meal prep building block, too. Chop up the cabbage and make the dressing in advance – you’ll have options all week long.


Ginger-Sesame Napa Slaw

Creamy Sesame-Ginger Napa Slaw


1 head napa cabbage

1/2 cup slivered almonds

2T sesame seeds (half black and half white, if you have them both)

5 basil leaves

2 green onions


2 T avocado oil mayonnaise (preferably homemade)

3 T buttermilk

1 T greek yogurt, plain

1 T olive or avocado oil

1.5 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 T ginger juice or freshly grated ginger



Make dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together, or in small mason jar and shake well until combined and emulsified. Add salt to taste.


On large cutting board, thinly slice head of napa cabbage, leaving the last 3 inches toward the root. Wash well using a large salad spinner, soaking the leaves and agitating in water for at least 30 seconds by hand, then spinning to remove excess water.


Wash green onions and basil. Then, thinly slice the green onion at a bias. Roll the basil leaves and thinly slice them at a bias also, then unroll to reveal long thin strips.


To Serve: Distribute cabbage evenly in 4 large salad bowls, or keep some in reserve for later use. Sprinkle serving bowls with green onions, basil, slivered almonds, and sesame seeds. Drizzle 2T of dressing over each bowl.


Can be extended to 8 servings if used as taco topping or side salad. (Nutrition Information based on 4 servings.)

Nutrition Per Serving







Dinner In Provence
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